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Enchanting Trip to French Riviera, Cote D’ Azur

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COTE D AZUR VILLAS

COTE D AZUR VILLAS

South France the name sounds synonymous to a concoction of nature’s beauty, medieval villages, super stylish retreats, luxury shopping and mesmerising hilltops. The area is wide spread, colossal and worth passing through. Cote D Azur ignites your imagination beyond boundaries of ethereal beauty.

The place was 19th century abode for European aristocracy and royalty. It attracted many eminent composers, artists such as Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Painter) lived in Cagnes, Jean Cocteau (French Writer & Filmmaker)  in Menton, Marc Chagall (French Artist) and Henri Matisse(Painter-Sculptor)  in Nice. Pablo Picasso (Painter –Sculptor) chose Antibes for spending most of his adulthood. In today’s time Paris is the only city that has more museums than Cote D Azur.

To know a place one should know its culture, people & food. It’s always overwhelming to familiarise yourself with facts & figures as I firmly believe that they help you understand the place better.

CANNES

Cannes Public Beach

Cannes Public Beach

Invited as a Press representative from India for Yacht Festival around the corner, exploring Cannes was a bonus in return. My mornings were busy with the Yacht Festival happening at Palais Des Festival. And with whatever time I had in hand post festival, I decided to explore the place. In a very short time, I realised that Cannes is a hub to international festivals and a shopping destination endorsing world’s most luxurious brands.

Cannes Public Beach

 In all my solo trips there has been learning, this one was no different. Lost amidst strangers and in a season where Asians are less around the corner it was quite a task to keep going and not feeling home sick. I wouldn’t disagree with the fact that my first two days were gloomy before the onset of the festival. It taught me though  how to survive and start liking one’s own company amongst all unknown faces. In our daily lives surrounded by family and friends we often forget to spend time with one’s own self and trust me it’s not easy. Travelling solo is exciting and challenging but living all by yourself in an unfamiliarised environment is no cake walk.

The first thing I did was to hit the office of tourism just next to Palais Des festival building to see what the place had in store for me.

The office of tourism has a friendly help desk offering the complete information you are looking for. My next 4 days itinerary was all set by end of my conversation.

Here are my top recommended places one shouldn’t miss when in Cannes.

Cannes offers enjoyable weather, massive choice of luxury hotels, modest apartments, restaurants-road side cafes and entertainment to suit all moods. One can shop basis ones pocket however there is wide table spread for luxury out there. You can venture into sailing, diving, fishing, golf, tennis and ballroom dancing as well. 

What to do when in Cannes?

Morning Strolls on the La Croisette

Enjoy morning and evening strolls on the La Croisette or start a morning in traditional French style strolling Forville market in Le Suquet (old town) which sells vegetables and local fish Tuesdays to Sundays. Mondays are switch over to Marche Brocante or antiques flea market.

The Promenade & la Croisette are lit up in the night that makes the walkway look so romantic and composed. Sit back and enjoy world’s tastiest ice-cream cones with your beloved.

 Designer Boutiques in Cannes

The promenade is lined up with designer boutiques like Cartier, Chanel, Dior and row of luxury brands. Stretching for nearly two miles one can savour luxury in every nook and corner.

Shopping Arenas Between La Croisette and Rue d Antibes in Cannes

There are many other shopping arenas essentially between La Croisette and Rue d Antibes in Cannes; it’s a long street with stores on both sides of the road. One can find stores like Zara, Claire’s, Desigual that suit the modest pockets. Rue Meynadier is popular for local produce, artefacts and discounted deals. There are flea markets on Mondays as well.

Beaches in CannesBeaches in Cannes are situated along with the La Croisette and Boulevard du Midi. They are splited up between private and public.  You can opt for the most popular swimming spots like Plage du Palais Des Festivals or book your  own beach bed at the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez Zplage. This one is known  for being the largest private beach on the croisette. Public parks are not behind. One may find few carousels and tiny parks near the Palais though one big one Cannes Rally Park at the other end offers amazing panoramic views of the bay from the pier.

Cathedral Notre Dame D Esperance in Old Town, Cannes

The Old Town in Cannes is known for the mesmerising views of the bay and the whimsical Cathedral Notre Dame D Esperance that stands  on the hill top.  The church and the surroundings are lovely, calm and serene. It offers massive literature for those who wish to well verse themselves on Christianity. The narrow brick lanes with typical French style villas and apartments look enchanting.

Structure Palais Des Festival

Bang on the bay is the super structure Palais Des festival famously known for its glitz, glamour & business. Focal Point of economy;this global village of Cannes is a successful business networking destination in France after Paris. The structure has been renovated over years, the latest is the grand auditorium Louis Lumiere, the foyer and the glass window. It holds number of international events year after year the most iconic being the International  Film Festival, Cannes Lion, TFWA and the Yacht Festival. Palais is also popular for its iconic hand prints of Hollywood stars from likes of Sharon Stone to Pink Panther.

Road side Cafes & Restaurants in Cannes

The place is known for its Road side Cafes & Restaurants, the most popular of them are the Ice Cream kiosques on the Croisette.  Film festivals, Designer stores, International events, fancy hotels definitely not a  budget destination however one can indulge in budget eating by avoiding restaurants located along the waterfront.

There are roadside cafes and restaurants in narrow cosy lanes that offer meal/dish for  15-20 Euros. Promenade is full of many places to shop & eat. The most affordable is Croisette Corner around the Croisette Fun Zone. This small outdoor café serves crepes, croquet monsieur, croissants, hot dogs and salads. Dishes are accompanied with French fries or chips.

Lerins Islands, CannesIf adventure is what you are seeking then sail away on a 15 minute ride to Lerins Islands across the bays. The Island is quite famous for its history of former 17th Century prison where Man in Iron Mask was held. One can take a stroll around the island green surroundings, enjoy Lunch at waterfront Restaurant la Guerite. The place also has smaller islands that offer wine tastings.

Hotels, Glitz & Glamour in Cannes

History of Cinema, Hotels, Glitz & Glamour in Cannes

Cannes saw a period of development during 18-19th century when it flourished. The British Lord Chancellor paved the way for royalty by building Palatial holiday villa in Cannes. His actions and lifestyle laid way to Europe’s wealthy citizens exploring the city and led to it soon becoming trendiest & wealthiest spots on Cote D Azur. The first film festival took place in 1946 and still counting.

The best way to understand the place is to take a Cinema Tour on a Toy Train that commences its tour just at the entrance of Palais Des festival building. The 45-60 minute tour helps you understand the small geography that can be easily explored on foot.

There are lovely city busses with amazing piece of art on their body; one should definitely board to experience the ride. I preferred a foot walk to connect with place & the people. Most of the places are accessible on foot.

The promenade has row of luxury hotels lined up but the most iconic, historical & luxurious Hotels that caught my attention are

  • Intercontinental Carlton Cannes: The backdrop to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 thriller “To Catch a Thief,” the century-old hotel still pays tribute to the film’s leading lady, Grace Kelly. Guests can stay in suite 623 where the film was shot, or opt for Kelly’s sea-view namesake suite, one of the most opulent of the personal favourite of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and features its own private elevator for VIP entrances.
  • Hôtel Majestic Barrière: With its landmark Carrara marble staircase and pool crafted from Murano mosaics, Views look straight across at the steps of the Palais des Festivals—where the stars walk the red carpet—and the seventh floor Majestic Barrier Suite (one of the most luxurious penthouses on the Riviera) shows off vistas of the Lérins Islands. Just one floor below, the Christian Dior Suite’s décor is inspired by the brand’s Parisian headquarters with replicas of the late designer’s furniture.
  • Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez: The seventh-floor penthouse here is one of the largest on the continent and most expensive in the world, with two Jacuzzi tubs and a 2,900-square-foot terrace lined with 200-year-old olive trees. The Art Deco-style sea-view rooms feature pearl-white satin accents; bathrooms with saunas and Turkish bath showers; and chaise lounges on balconies looking out to the Estérel Mountains. Even if you can’t swing a room here, try and make time for one of the signature oxygen treatments at the L.RAPHAEL Beauty Spa.

Post spending time in this luxurious city; with my eyes stuck on the stars, it was time my feet reminded to get back to the ground. Yeah, you got it right,it was time for a reality check and continue on the journey to my next destination Nice. 

                                                                          Yes, Nice was calling……Boat for Destination Nice in Cannes

Nice is Nice;Uncover Nice…….

Panoramic View of Nice

Panoramic View of Nice

So much I had heard about French Riviera, that when I stepped at Nice Airport my distant dream now had become reality. Coming out of the airport Nice looked to me just like any other small city. But soon my apprehensions were put to rest as I checked into the Hotel.

It was time to unveil the treasures of the city and there I was walking down lanes, hip hopping busses, boarding trains & exploring the place.

Promenade De Anglais & Vieux Nice

From Left Promenade De Anglias & Right Old Town (Vieux Nice)

I recommend choice of hotels near Promenade De Anglais & Vieux Nice– Old Town in Nice which has hardly changed since 18th Century.

Nice is a vibrant capital of Cote D Azur. Bright blue sea, great sunshine, lively and buzzing with people through the year. Going around the place I felt that Nice is more of a resort and a honky tonk which still resonates 18th Century culture.

For those on a vacay mode the main promenade popularly known as Promenade Des Anglais is yet another interesting place for shopping and eateries. Nice indeed has some finest restaurants in Europe.

Cours Saleya

Cours Saleya

Shopping and Food in Nice may be injurious to your wallet but trust me it’s worth it. The Cours Saleya & the Marche Aux Fleurs  are quite popular amongst the visitors.

Blue Bay- Monaco

Blue Bay- Monaco

French Riviera has more than 50 Michelin stars across 38 restaurants. Blue Bay in Monaco shows mesmerising views of waterfront terrace at Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. It is good place to dine.

LA CHEVRE D OR- EZE

LA CHEVRE D OR- EZE

 My personal favourite was la Chevre d Or in the medieval village of Eze. Located 1300 feet above the Mediterranean, this seasonal restaurant (opens March- Nov) is  worth exploring. The panoramic view windows and the rustic charm of the restaurant is boundless. During the Grand Prix this perch is a hub to celebrity yacht spotting as boats cruise in and out of the bay down the cape.

The nightlife in Nice is quite lively. I personally prefer rustic old charm when it comes down to drinking and  socialising. My thumbs up would be to bars and pubs in Old Town (Vieux Nice). One can just sit and sip a glass on terrace, hideout in woods with beer and some English music. There is plenty for everyone to suit any mood.

Promenade De Anglias

Well one can also opt to sit on the Promenade De Anglias and enjoy views in a calm environment.

Nice is the place for art lovers. An esoteric reality featuring over 100 museums, few dedicated to sole artists who lived and worked in Riviera. In Nice eminent museums worth a visit are Musee Marc Chagall and Musee Matisse (closed on Tuesdays). Museum of Fine Art & Modern Art is also recommended.

Pink & White Domes Negresco Hotel

LE NEGRESCO HOTEL

If Luxury Stay is on your mind then I recommend the Pink & white domes Negresco Hotel. The hotel has been a vacay haven to everyone from Vanderbilts to the Beatles. It  has a majestic display of original artwork by greats likes of Salvador Dali & Raymond Moretti.

Hotel la Perouse Nice

HOTEL LA PEROUSE NICE

Location is important for some travellers so keeping this in mind I would suggest Hotel la Perouse. It is unbeatable for its location which is right at the edge of Promenade de Anglais underway Castle Hill with views of old Town & Nice Pebble struck beaches.

Hotel Windsor, NiceHOTEL WINDSOR, NICE

And last but not the least for the art lovers in the city Hotel Windsor is an exemplary option. It’s a nest to fresco –pops of modern art with artists rooms featuring varied original masterpieces from Artists who have used the venue as their studios.

My trip to Nice was indeed a heart-warming experience, things that I had read in history books or seen in books of art were just right in front of me so much alive and accessible. I felt ecstatic and numb all the time experiencing beauty, art and culture that was so soulful.Especially the climb up the castle Hill where former citadel use to be. A hodgepodge of cosy lanes up from Place Garibaldi and the Old Town. The calm and quiet walk on the Promenade De Anglais with views over the port Baie Des Anges & Old town just refuse to leave my mind.

Monaco Map

Alas! It was time now for the meandering gypsy to make a headway to Monaca yet another French flavour.

Monaco, French RivieraMonaco is smallest independent state in the world, second only to Vatican. It is known for its opulence and razzle dazzle throughout the year. Well a worthy piece of information for regular travellers is that the place offers lot of free attractions and sight-seeing. My foray to Monaco was part of my must visit destinations on the French Riviera. Not to be missed for sure.

Monaco City Views

City Views of Monaco

Monaco is situated on a broad steep peninsula that blobs out into the Mediterranean and is quite popular with the rich and famous. The harbour oozes shimmering yachts and the lush luxurious posh properties encircling the same with immortal sun shining away to glory.

With such glitz and glamour comes a price which is indeed expensive hence eating is not cheap, even the modest hotels are expensive as compared to Nice. My recommendation one can explore Monaco as part of a day tour easily doable via train or bus.

Here are places that I recommend few being my personal favourite.

Nietzsche Path Leading for Medievale Village

Enroute to Monaco is the famous Medieval Village. Nestled on the Nietzsche path leading from Eze’s seaside up to the village.

Art -EZE at Village

Village the Art -EZE

Cosy narrow by lanes with artisan shops, studios and restaurants. Stopping by for a glass of wine on terrace of 400 year old Chateau Eza built on city’s thousand year old walls is truly enchanting.

Monaco Exotic Garden

Monaco Exotic Garden

Monaco Exotic Garden is located in La Condamine on a Cliff side. One of the several botanical gardens in Monaco this was established by Prince Albert I. It was during the landscaping and planting of the garden that hidden grotto was discovered in 1916. Today the grotto is open for public views as part of tours and one can enjoy prehistoric cave paintings on the walls of the cave. One needs to  buy a ticket at entrance of the garden which includes the tour of Observatory Cave and the Prehistoric Anthropology Museum.

Prince Palace Monaco

Prince Palace Monaco

The Prince Palace is built on the site of former Genoese fortress dated back to 1215. The residences over years have seen remarkable makeover. The current look of the Palace is grand & luxurious patronising style of Louis XIV. At times witnessing history is more interesting and exciting especially when you are exposed to various facts like during French Revolution the palace was turned into a hospital for Italian soldiers.

The Palace has a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist dating back to 1665.

State Apartments in the Prince Palace are open to public during a set part of the year. Details are available online on Palace website. For rest of the year they are used as the private residences of ruling Prince.

A guided tour of the Palace Apartments takes about 40 minutes.

Roman Catholic Cathedral in Monaco Ville

The Roman Catholic Cathedral famously known as the Notre Dame Immaculate or the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is extraordinarily divine and celestial. Built in 1875-903 in Monaco Ville.

Tombs of Monaco’s SovereignsThe Cathedral holds the tombs of Monaco’s sovereigns including Prince Rainer III and Princess Grace. This is also the funeral chapel of Monaco’s archbishops and bishops.

Institute of Oceanographique, Monaco

Institute of Oceanographique, Monaco

The Institute of Oceanographique is yet another must do in your itinerary. Established in 1910 by Prince Albert I. The museum was run by famous ocean explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau. The museum is situated in an impressive baroque building on a cliff overlooking the sea. The Institute exhibits marine life that consists of over 6000 species such as jellyfish, star fish, crustaceans, shark and many more. The place has on display model ships, submarines, and artefacts recovered from the sea.

Parfumerie Fragonard in France

One of the Products that completely bowled me over was Fragonard. We all have heard and probably used French fragrances but my visit to factory  of Parfumeur Fragonard left me awe stuck. The passion and the zeal with which Eugene Fuch an entrepreneur started to set up his factory producing perfumery based products shortly after First World War is a fascinating tale in itself.

Parfumerie Fragonard was opened in 1926. Eugène Fuchs chose to name it after the famous Grasse-born painter, Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), as a tribute to both the town of Grasse and to the refinement of 18th-century arts. Fragonard this very beautiful factory established in a 19th century building sits in the heart of the old town where the perfumes and soaps are crafted every day. It is one of the oldest factories in Grasse.

Hand & Body Care Cosmetics

Products offered are for both Men & women from soaps & shower to hand & body care cosmetics.

Take a free guided visit of workshops and laboratories to see how the products are crafted from only the best raw materials. The premises are open every day including Sundays and public holidays from 9 am to 7 pm.Products are sold at factory prices.

I picked up my favourites don’t forget to pick yours.

Street Sign Board for Monte Carlo Casino
Monte Carlo Casino

Legendary spots are tough to ignore and Monaco offers quite a few of them. One such is Monte Carlo Casino. Though I am not much into gambling but I do believe what is life if not a gamble. A visit to this royal casino was worth every second.

Monte Carlo Casino

The place is as grand as a palace with a Casino, Grand Theatre of Monte Carlo and the offices of Monte Carlo Ballet.

Primarily conceived as a source of revenue to save royal family from bankruptcy. The building has a atrium paved in marble with 28 onyx columns. The gaming rooms are elaborately decked up in rich fabrics, sculptures, statues and stained glass windows.

One needs to wear a jacket, shorts in the evenings, sports shoes and flip-flops not permissible. Surprisingly Monaco citizens are not allowed in casinos. The casino has been quite favourite of Hollywood flicks including James Bond movies.

One can access Monte Carlo Casino as part of the Monaco Hop-on Hop-off Tour. This tour is an extremely convenient way to get to know Provence & Cote d’Azur.

My two days in Monaco made me witness the rich history of the Provence and  I can undoubtedly confess that one can’t stop falling in Love with French Riviera. It was time to head back home with such fragrant memories of beauty, culture, food and all the three cities architectural grandeur.

Totally In Love with Cote D Azur. Recommended beyond words.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Shobhit Jaiswal

    October 6, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Beautiful as you are 🙂

  2. debbiebarker

    September 21, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Well, very good post with informative information. I really appreciate the fact that you approach these topics from a stand point of knowledge and information.

    Fish shop french riviera

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International

Bangkok World’s Top Tourist Destination

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Bangkok indeed is a tourist’s paradise. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or not there is one big question that we all face while choosing a destination for a holiday. And that big question often is “Does the place offer me a complete Touristy package”?

Have you wondered after all what is this Touristy Package?

I have been travelling for past 19 years and in my all escapades to various destinations, mingling with fellow travelers across the world. I can confidently state that while people do holiday for different reasons there is one thing that is common and that is “Big Expectation” from destination to offer Good Food, Shopping, Entertainment, Nightlife, Adventure and Scenic beauty and most important all of this at an affordable price. Sounds Good! Well good or not but it definitely is an overlong list of expectation.

So here comes Bangkok; a complete Touristy Package Destination. The city is high on tourism as it is also a convenient transit point to explore rest of Thailand. Travel Stats states that Bangkok is the most booked Asian destination of year 2018. Pattaya takes 10th position in the charts. Other popular Thai destinations are Hua Hin-Cha am, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Chiang Rai, Krabi. You can read about these spots in my other blog stories.

But for now, let’s have a look at what makes Bangkok a Avant Garde Destination.

Girls Group Tour organized by Travel Tummy.

Accommodations

From Airbnb to hostels to hotels to resorts. Bangkok fits in everyone’s budget and that’s the best thing about the place. Best locations from accessibility, food and entertainment purpose are Sukhumvit, Silom, Siam, Pratunam and Riverside.

 I prefer Hotels in around Sukhumvit Soi 11; for its proximity to various destinations, good spread of Restaurants offering Asian food and BTS Skytrain station just around the corner.

Personally, experienced hotels that I recommend are Grand Swiss Sukhumvit 11 Hotel Bangkok by Compass Hospitality and Citrus Sukhumvit 11 by Compass Hospitality. These two properties in Sukhmvit Soi 11 are best known for rates, proximity to eateries, clubs, BTS Skytrain station and massage parlors.

Bangkok for you.

Mahanakhon Skywalk

  1. Mahanakhon Skywalk

Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in our minds. Dare to challenge it? Try exploring Thailand’s highest observation deck at 314 meters offering 360-degree panoramic views of the city. One can experience world’s largest glass trays at height of 310 meters from 78th Floor. Best views of the city. One is permitted photography from official photo taking area only.

 Pic Courtesy Bangkok.com

  • Siam Niramit Show

A spectacular show offering a grand feast of sight, sound and taste. The show presents legendary stories of Thai Mythology and Culture. The entry starts at about 5.30 Pm in evening and one can enjoy early Dinner Buffet, Thai Massage, Elephant rides and Souvenir shops.

The show starts at about 8:00 PM. Performed on a huge stage listed in Guinness World Records. About 100 performers in more than 500 costumes. The show displays special effects using cutting edge technology. Must do for those who love to appreciate art and take a glimpse into Thailand’s art and culture.

                             Floating Market Bangkok

Pic Courtesy Bangkok.com

  • Floating Market

Floating Markets are quite popular amongst the visitors and tourists to Thailand. For first timers this seems to be a must do in their bucket list.

There are quite a few floating markets in around Bangkok. While most of the markets have boats piled with tropical fruits, vegetables, coconut juices and local cooked food. It’s the ambience that makes a difference in the experience. Some are crowded with locals while some have mix of locals and tourists. Some Floating Markets are in Bangkok while others are in radius of 20-50 kms outside the city.

The one that’s ringing the bell is Damnoen Saduak Floating market. Hollywood friendly this market has featured in James Bond Classic “The Man with the Golden Gun with Roger Moore as James Bond.

In 2008 the film Bangkok Dangerous starring Nicolas Cage shot a scene in the market place and thus making this market quite popular amongst tourists.

The market exhibits aquatic culture well blended with Thai architecture around the place. One can shop traditional puppets, noodle soup, bamboo hats and more.

                                      Grand Palace Bangkok

  • Grand Palace- Emerald Buddha-Reclining Buddha

Grand Palace is one of the spectacular spots of Bangkok. A must do in your first visit. Built in 1782 its been home to generations of Thai Monarchy for 150 years. The Palace also held Thai war ministry, state departments.

Within the Palace there are impressive shrines of Buddha popularly and locally known as Wat Phra Kaew or the Emerald Buddha. The Emerald Buddha (Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakron) is a Buddha image in meditating pose in the style of the Lanna School of the North way back from 15th century AD. The robes of Buddha are changed by the HM The king of Thailand and is considered an important ritual of Buddhist calendar. Though the King doesn’t reside here but most ceremonial and auspicious ceremonies are held in the Palace.

Wat Pho -Golden Reclining Buddha

The picture of Golden Reclining Buddha is the most iconic image used to promote Bangkok. Hence making it a must do spot. The Buddha figure is about 15 meters tall, 46 meters long; feet are about 5 meters long decorated in Mother of Pearl illustrations of auspicious laksanas of the Buddha. 108 is a significant number referring to 108 positive actions and symbols that helped lead Buddha to perfection.

One needs to be appropriately dressed which is no exposed shoulders or skin above the knee. Wat Pho also is known for therapeutic massages. Post temple visit if you wish to relax your feet or try various massages to relieve your stress and improve blood circulation.

Pic Courtesy- Bangkok.com

  • Wat Arun

Envisioned by King Taksin in 1768, it is believed that after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya which was taken over by Burmese army at that time, he arrived at this temple. He named it as Temple of Dawn. Emerald Buddha was earlier stationed here before moving to Grand Palace. Rama 111 further added spires of porcelain to add to grandeur of this temple. One of iconic sites of Bangkok. The night views of temple are simply mesmerizing.

  • Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise

Be it a honeymoon or a new year’s night cruise ride on the Chao Phraya River is one of most intoxicating experience. One can enjoy views of some of the most iconic buildings, light music on the boat, riverside scenery, watch live performances, World class Thai cuisine buffet. In short simply splendid. One should definitely do this to carry back timeless memories. Ideal for private parties, wedding receptions or incentive groups.

Pic Courtesy -Blue Elephant School

  • Blue Elephant Half Day Cooking Tour: Love to explore the world gastronomy or are simply foodies; then this is the tour for you.

Upon enrolling you can expect a century old mansion opening its doors to you. One can learn about rich history of recipes and taste culinary delights of royal Thai Cuisine. You shall have a mentor chef greeting you with welcome drink. Then would be a discussion round together for you to curate your 4-course meal. One needs to head to market to get ingredients that chef has listed and then get back to school.Now comes the action time so get set into your aprons and start following instructions from the chef for your menu and after you put in all the hard work; its time to lay the food presentation and taste it.

  • Muay Thai Boxing

If you are high on your adrenalin rush and possess martial art instincts then this is a must for you. You may choose to witness live action or may chose to learn the art but let me warn you this is no joke its real sweat in the ring.

Muay Thai in Bangkok is neon lights flood ring with two men’s spiritual thanksgiving to their teachers, spirits and sport in a ceremony called Wai Khru.

The stadium witnesses loud Thai classical instruments playing music with boxers performing a Ram Muay-dance demonstrating their skills and styles. These pre match ceremonies are believed to bring in luck and protection to boxers. Post that match starts, stay tight as it does gets bloody and gore some to watch.

Most famous of Thai Boxing academy is Master Toddy’s Muay Academy named after master himself. He is considered as “The father of Muay Thai Boxing”; one can learn Muay Boran, Krabi Krabong, Western Boxing, Women’s self-defense and MMA.

2. Thailand Flower Market-Chao Phraya Pier

Thailand Flower Market is not a typical bucket list spot but I would definitely suggest visiting this place. Be it with your family or a solo trip there is so much to learn from flowers. I personally believe in “Flower Sermons”. Wanna try? Here you go take Lotus flower for instance it teaches-Trust in the Light; grow in the dirt and believe in new beginnings. Another One- look at Jasmine flower- smiles at darkness of night.

One can grace flowers like Jasmine, Chrysanthemum, Orchids, Lillies, roses, tulips and many more. It’s nature’s feast to one’s sight.

Vacations are best way to detox your mind body and soul, one should often look at visiting places that are not necessarily must do’s but do teach you life sermons unknowingly.

And don’t forget to buy yourself a bunch because you are worth it.

  • Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine: There are many phallic shrines in the world with various beliefs and facts. This shrine in Bangkok believes in worshipping phallus to encourage fertility and marital bliss amongst couples. Women looking forward to pregnancy, young girls for wishing marital bliss or for general marital contentment offer beauty products, phallus in the shrine as offerings.
  • Massages

Bangkok is a hub for spa’s and massages. There are innumerable massage centers offering beauty spa’s, therapeutic massages to general massages for daily lifestyle requirements. One cannot imagine Bangkok without a massage so whether its your first time or fifth, leaving Bangkok without a massage is simply not a good idea.

One can chose to opt for a massage parlor outside your hotel or call masseur in hotel room via hotel. There are massage parlors inside hotels too or chose a parlor in any of the malls. There are many choices suiting your pocket and preference.

  • Bangkok in New Years

New Year is one time of the year that rocks indeed and witnessing this rocking moment is a lifetime opportunity one shouldn’t miss at all. One such work trip to Bangkok during New Year’s just made my day. The only low down is that the places are jammed packed with no space to breathe; at times becomes too claustrophobic but whose complaining with that kind of titillating backdrop. Children and those suffering from breathing ailments should be avoided.

Bangkok puts up a great show on New Year’s; while there are many spots celebrating the New year’s frenzy one such public event is held at Centre World Mega Shopping Complex. The mall is home to branded clothing, gourmet eateries, ice skating ring-though most of them shuts down early in the evening as the place turns into one mega venue to witness New Year’s countdown.

Pre countdown festivity starts with live music bands playing popular nos. of Western and Thai Music. One can watch popular Thai TV & Cinema Stars coming and performing on musical nos. before the countdown onset starts. There are street food hawkers, people selling neon lit hair bands, new year body accessories to add to the season flavor.

Watch the Pre & Countdown video to decide if this event is for you?

 
  • Shopping

-Pratunam: This is one of the most famous street markets of Bangkok selling clothes, shoes, accessories at wholesale prices. Popular with small local & international shopkeepers who buy in bulk. Prices are cheap at times unbelievable. The market operates on cash payments only. The area is huge spread across tiny by lanes and stalls sometimes get difficult to find your way out. It’s quite a maze but who is complaining for the deals one gets to find here. If shopping is in your mind then carry lot of money and bags because you are definitely coming out with empty pockets.

-Malls

Terminal 21 is a whole world in one place. The Mall is haven to shopaholics laid out in market street style inspired from 8 world class shopping cities. The Place is spread out on different levels with escalators flying you from one city to another. So Welcome to Caribbean, Rome, Paris, Tokyo, London, Istanbul, San Francisco and Hollywood. What’s your pick?

 Accessible with BTS and MRT Routes.

MBK Center

Bangkok’s most legendary shopping mall amongst tourists and locals. There are 8 floors with 2000 shops that sell almost everything from clothes, make up, fashion accessories, handbags, food eateries with level full dedicated to electronics. One can sell and buy electronic items here. It’s not as upmarket or plush as Siam Paragon but it offers great products and considerably less prices. Easy access via sky train or TukTuk or cabs.

Products are value for money and bargains do work here. Try your luck.

Siam Paragon

One of the high-end shopping destinations in Bangkok. The mall houses a host of international brands, South East Asia’s largest aquarium, 16 screen cineplex and a comprehensive world cuisine.

Located conveniently in front of Siam BTS sky train station. The mall has a collection of over 250 international brands so if something exclusive is on your mind then this is the place for you.

Asiatique

Asiatique is one of my favorites shopping spots in Bangkok, a night bazaar and a vintage mall. One can ride a ferry from Saphan Taksin BTS station. With over 1500 boutiques and 40 restaurants this place is splendid. What I like most about this place are the views down river with ferries doing rounds, the big Ferris wheel and the buzz that’s so much fun. The place for sure gives a great shopping orgasm.

Pic Courtesy- Safari World

Bangkok for Kids

Bangkok has some great spots for Kids to enjoy too such as homeland’s famous KidZania situated in popular Siam Paragon Mall on 5th Floor;

Bounce Inc. is an action-packed trampoline park and Climbing Centre.

Most popular amongst kids is the Safari World Park offering fun at Animal Kingdom and Marine Park both. One can feed animals and also watch great shows put up by these animals.

I have always said that while they put a great show for us; we too should be compassionate and treat them with love and care. Never hurt animals.

Gypsyescapade does not promote nor encourages any sort of recommended fun activities that involves or promotes cruelty against animals.

Pic Courtesy- La Presse.ca

Nightlife

PatPong

World’s most glorified red-light district. Patpong is where Thailand’s Go-Go Culture started. The same came in spotlight and was immortalized in James Bond Chase sequence. Patpong is spread between two parallel side streets between Silom and Surawongse road. With neon lit strips bars, pole dancing; go go bars and naughty shows openly offered to visitors and tourists. This street is indeed having some electrifying pleasure waiting to be consumed.

Patpong undoubtedly is the King of the scene compared to Soi Cowboy its counterpart in Sukhmvit area. The place also sells street junkies to tourists and visitors. Dull and dumb in the day and in the night its completely opposite -unrecognizable.

Need we say more as to why Bangkok is rated as Top Tourist destination?

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Calmer & Quieter Cha am; Thailand

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Slow, Still, Serene, Speechless….

Life today is turbulent, rowdy and boisterous. Living each day is a challenge in cities. Taking a break is no more a luxury it’s rather a necessity to disconnect with the world and find peace. Though holidays are planned to rejuvenate our mind, body and soul but we still get stuck up at noisy beaches; crowded amusements parks; hitting up must do’s on our travel bucket list in urban city’s or popular countryside locations. And finally, realize that are holidays were as busy as our daily lives.

So, here is Cha am one of the quieter and calmer beach islands located just 200 kms south of Bangkok; good enough for a day trip too. Popular with Bangkok locals who want to rewind themselves away from the daily chaos and for travelers in search of laid-back holidays. One can combine Cha am with Hua Hin Island in close proximity.

Cha am comes out to be a perfect place to simply disconnect with the world, enjoy reading a book on the beach with just sound of lapping waves , cool breeze and  turtle or sea gull for company. Popular with couples looking for more private space, senior citizens who prefer peace over noise and families with kids who want less crowded spaces for kids to enjoy outdoors.

Exploring Cha am.

Sometimes its important that we detox our lives and one such place to do that is Cha am a district in Phetchaburi province.

It’s a white sand beach that stretches for kilometers. What’s best about this place

is the proximity of beaches with the places it offers to stay. There are quite a mix of places one can pick up on.

  1. Cha am Beach

Cha am’s long stretch sandy beaches are known for stillness of time. Best to have self-sessions; picnic with family, pony rides or just enjoy watching sunrise and sunset with your loved one.

Though it does offer beach activities such as jet skiing and banana boat riding and seafood is readily available in restaurants as well as street side kiosks.

Pic Courtesy- Coaching Golf

2. Golf  

Cha am & Hua Hin are best known for Golf. Especially Cha am with spectacular scenery, embraced by forested mountains and poetic sea; golf is best enjoyed in this place. The place offers some of the best golf courses including the Jack Nicklaus designed course and 6 international standard courses inciting you to keep coming back and qualifying them. There are extensive Championship golf courses are available for you to enroll in them.

3. Maruekhathaiyawan Palace

Period Splendour When approached from afar, the sight of the palace against the backdrop of white sands and cerulean-blue sea conjures up an image of a place suspended in time. You can almost imagine court servants scurrying down the corridors, going about their daily business, while the king and royal consorts take residence in the royal chambers. Back in those days, each of the three buildings had clearly defined functions.

A series of halls located in the south wing served as the residence of the king and royal consorts. These consisted of royal sitting and relaxing rooms, the royal chamber of the princess consort and a reading room. The north wing served as accommodation for court servants, and the two-story open pavilion or ‘Samoson Sewakamat Hall’ served as the official venue for royal functions as well as for theatre and entertainment.

4. PlearnWan

Plearnwan in Thai means joy of yesteryear. This is Vintage rustic ground selling unique souvenirs, toys, apparels, fashion accessories, artifacts and variety of nam pirik (chilipaste). The ground has a Ferris wheel, game counters and an outdoor cinema where shows happen on weekend evenings.

Food is the focal point of this place. One can savor grilled meat and various local delicacies. There is a humongous spread of Thai desserts to relish. In all a place that truly depicts the culture of locals.

Pic Courtesy: Klook

5. Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Breathtaking views of limestone peaks in backdrop and lush green surroundings; this place is nothing but green paradise. The name of the Park means “the mountains with three hundred peaks”. An area of 100 sqkm. Along the coast the place is closer to Hua Hin in south and Krabi province too. The beauty of this Park lies in wildlife, Crab eating macaques, Asian Goat Antelope. And that not all the pristine white beaches, offshore island caves, forest trails; bird watcher’s paradise as its home to more than 300 species.

 Best seasons for park is between Sept- November when a flock of migratory birds from Serbia, China and Northern Europe arrive to halt and feed and then continue their journey to South of Australia. One can explores Caves or opt for hiking. About 400 meters from the Park Centre hike up the hill to view most scenic sunrise viewpoint called Khao Daeng.

Pic Courtesy: Klook

 Phraya Nakhon Cave: What can I say about this Cave; nature’s marvel is at display with a hole in its roof that allows stream of light to fall upon a dome constructed in conventional Thai Architecture for King Rama V. Surrounded by limestone mountains on three sides.

Pic Courtesy: Thai National Parks

The dome looks exquisite when the beam of sunrays falls upon it making it the most picturesque views. To visit this cave, one needs to take 20 minutes long tail boat ride to Laem Sala Beach and hike another 30 minutes uphill forested trail.

6. Family Vacationers: for those travelling with kids there are quite few places to explore and enjoy such as Swiss Sheep Farm, Santorini Park. To  know more about these places read story by #littlegypsytraveller “ Best Kids Friendly places in Cha am & Hua Hin on the link below.

https://bit.ly/2YTimpN

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Pattaya is not just the sin city of South East Asia

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If Las Vegas is the sin city, Pattaya is a bearhug from Lucifier himself. How many of us have heard this anecdote on Pattaya? I am sure most of us. Well when we spell Pattaya what comes to our minds most is it is the “Sin City of South East Asia”.

Not that you are wrong but do you know Pattaya is not just that. Sharing close proximity with Bangkok about 147 kms and offering value for money tourism; it’s one of the favorite destinations for Corporates for Mice events.

Pattaya is on verge of becoming new world class MICE City for Thailand and the whole world. Authorities are working on their ambitious project of making ”New Pattaya, the World Class Greenovative Tourism City” with a ”green and clean” environment for tourists and locals.

Let’s take a look at what makes Pattaya a perfect concoction of Leisure, Lust, Luxury, Lackadaisical…. I can keep adding more L’s to my list. In short, the takeaways are endless and all this for a pocket friendly budget.


The Leela Resort & Spa, Pattaya- Recommended for Family & Group Stays.

Stays’

From Beach Side Resorts, Apartments, Family Hotels, City Centers, Romantic Hotels & Luxury Hotels, Pattaya has it all. Ideal areas to choose your holiday haven are Jomtien, Central Pattaya, Pattaya Beach Road, South Pattaya.

Islands Near Pattaya (Day Trips from Pattaya)

While there are quite few islands to explore from Pattaya such as Koh Samet, Monkey Island, Koh Si Chang, Koh Khram, Koh Rin, Koh Phai, Koh Krok, Koh Sak, Koh Larn; the most popular one being Koh Samet and Coral island (Koh Larn).

Koh Samet

This is a small island off Rayong (south of Pattaya). One can find tall cliffs along west coast and pleasing beaches along the east coast. This beach is quite popular among st locals of Bangkok & Pattaya especially the youth as it holds there an annual Thai Pop & rock music festival . Koh Samet has good line of hotels and resorts. The sea’s favorite thrills are scuba diving, swimming, snorkeling etc.

Koh Larn (Coral Island)

Coral Island is the largest island near Pattaya. One can access it from Bali Hai Pier. The island has around 6 main beaches. One can opt for a long tail boat or a speed boat for accessing this island. Island has got white sand and warm turquoise waters. Plenty of water sports like banana boat, jet ski, speed boat thrills and others. And for those who love to turn hermit for some time, this is a beautiful place to be in that state of mind. I love going in and out of hermit zone and rejuvenating my five senses at those beautiful abandoned spots in the island. The other leeway of enjoying this solidarity is that you get to spot some extraordinary Instagram able spots.

Pattaya Attractions

1)Pattaya for Kids

Upside Down Museum

Upside Down Museum Pattaya is like any other trick museums though what’s unique about this place is huge compound dedicated to this perplexed structure that leaves you completely disoriented once inside the premises. The structure offers various unbalanced interiors that can sway off your feet and offer amazing bewildered trick photography pictures. I would suggest scan and take a look at few trick photography pics before visiting this place so you can make most of it.

Photography services are available inside too. To add more to this topsy-turvy world the place is open for couple and newlywed photo sessions. Now this definitely is an amazing and quite eye drop experience to enjoy some comic and intelligent wedding photography at this place.

Recommended for those who find normal boring.

 Underworld World Pattaya

Underwater World Pattaya, the only aquarium in Pattaya City. The place is much more than an aquarium as it offers interactive activities with aquatic creatures. One can feed Koi Fish, Turtles and enjoy the Touch Zone pools where one can actually experience marine animals by touching them.

And that’s not all the highlight of the place is the Sleep Over with Sharks and Rays Camp designed especially for the School Kids. This program me is one of its kind.

The place as a lot of marine creatures and colorful corals. There are beautiful acrylic tunnels about 105 meters long with 180 degrees coverage that gives it a real underwater experience.

Not a regular aquarium. Must Do.

Sriracha Tiger Zoo

Great Place for Kids to explore wildlife in such close proximity. Activities offered are Crocodile feeding; Big Tiger feeding- food scumble, Nang Phong Scorpio- Trained lady with 100 scorpions on her dress-dare to do the same; Play with scouts (baby tiger cubs), feeding Koi fish, Park -Zoo has plenty of beautiful landscaping that offers amazing photo backdrops;

One can click pictures feeding baby tiger cubs or big size tigers. While we do all of this it would be nice if we show compassion and love towards animals while we interact with them and they put up at some amazing shows for us.

Ramayana Water Park

Biggest Water Park in Thailand. Rated 1st in Thailand, 2nd in Asia & 12th in the world by Trip advisor. With more than 50 attractions, 350 trained staff and 100 lifeguards. This place should definitely on your bucket list. Need I say more.  Speaking about what different at this Water park, crystal clear water used in the rides are safe enough to drink sourced from the underground wells. More than 20 rides are unique and have no comparison in Asia.

Art in Paradise

Watch the video to decide if this one is for you.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not

“Believe it or not” is a choice to open up to unknown. USA’s most popular tourist attraction. Be it amazing facts, darker side of life or thrills that give you shaking chills. This place for sure keeps you on toes.

Check the link below to see if this is for you.

2) Attractions

Sanctuary of Truth

History is tale of wonders and marvels. If you too are fascinated with history and love to explore cultural heritages then this is one place you shouldn’t miss. One of most iconic sites in Pattaya. Intricately carved in teak wood this is an outstanding example of Thai Craftsmanship. Elaborated and marvelous carvings of elephants, people and picture stories of Thai Mythology. The piece of cultural art depicted on the walls is a tribute to Ancient vision of Earth, Knowledge & philosophy.

Pic Courtesy-Reddit.

It’s interesting to know that the construction that began in 1981, is an ongoing and never ending one. One should definitely visit the tall hall to its north alongside the beach. It’s not only offers picturesque views of the temple but is simply breathtaking.

Pattaya Floating Market

Spread across an area of about 100,000 sqm, the market is forked into 4 sections displaying and selling items from North, south, central and northeast part of Thailand. One can savor eateries, fruits kiosks, art galleries. There is a cultural display every afternoon put up by the local folk artists. For floating experience one can opt for boat ride and witness the serene ambience around the riverside with a scoop of Thai culture.

Pattaya View Point

Pattaya Viewpoint on Pratumnak Hill is a striking viewpoint of crescent shaped bay. The view is peaceful and tranquil. Simply qualifies to be one of the Instagram able sites.

Nong Nooch Tropical Garden

Bewitching Tropical Garden is set in 2.4 sq.km; well-manicured landscape; this botanical garden is an inspiration from 17th century French gardens, Stonehenge and European Renaissance era. Plants like cactus, succulents, orchid nurseries, tropical palms, bonsai and topiary garden is what makes this place a nature’s paradise.

To explore the garden fully one should hire a bicycle and take a nature troll at leisure. Orchid nursery is one of my favorites. Garden also features spectacular Thai Dance -Music shows in Thai Cultural Hall. There are Paddle boats and cycling available too. I would recommend this for sure, smitten away by the nature at its best.

Love Art Park

Love-lust is in this park for sure. Located in south of Pattaya close to Ocean Marina Yacht club, this 49,000 sq.mts park is a display of erotic human -animal sculptures. With artistic display of sex be it fairy winged woman, chicken -hen family, Male genitals displayed by vegetables.

This place is high on erotic drama. Not recommended for families the sex humor quotient is definitely high here. Evenings are illuminated, sunsets views are striking. If looking for illuminated displays- that’s not put up every evening it is advised to check with Park officials before visiting.

Mountain Buddha

This is one of my preferred places to visit in Pattaya. The very sight of artistically carved Buddha sitting cross legged with one hand resting on his knee and other in lap engraved in the northern face of Khao Chi Chan hill is alluring.


Serenity that encompasses this place is so infectious; it awakens your eyes to a beautiful life and your heart to natural serenity that lies within you. Talking about the mountain imagery it was carved in gold on this solitary limestone hill in 1996 to commemorate the Supreme patriarch.

Beaches in Pattaya

Jomtien Beach

6 km straight stretch of sand much of quieter place as compared to livewire north. Sandy shore, cleaner sea, mouthwatering seafood snacks across the shore.   

Pattaya Beach

Pattaya Beach is a 4 Km crescent coastline than just sea and sand. With huge no. of speedboats, parasails, Jet Skis, diving boats and floating restaurants.  Pattaya Beach Road is a line of Palm Trees away from the shore.  Between Pattaya North and Pattaya South there are large gamut of activities to keep you engaged and thrilled.

NIGHT LIFE

Girls Trip #Walking Street

Walking Street is one of the busiest spots in Pattaya. A Kilometer stretch of high live entertainment. From Night Clubs, to Go Go bars, Beer Bar Restaurants, eateries and shopping. The street is a high voltage erotic entertainment catering to various preferences.

What makes this street electrifying is that its so densely spread with adult entertainment that you may find yourself exploring new places each evening.

Hey but that’s not all place is perfectly safe for family visitors ideally adults. Enjoy little drama while having Turkish Ice-cream and also shop at one of those street shops selling apparels, shoes, lingerie’s, plenty to street eateries to enjoy. And for those who are not interested in exploring adult entertainment just a stroll on this neon lit street is a titillating experience.

 Big Eye Show Pattaya

This is an 18 +adult show and takes approximately 1 hour to view. Photography is strictly not allowed and if someone is caught doing so, penalties are heavy. The show is a nude display of acts performed by Lady Boys.

The Show timings start from 6:00 Pm in evening till 10:30 in the night. Its an ongoing show so one can join anytime in between the time band mentioned above. Seats are as what available at time of your entry.

-Alcazar Cabaret Show

The show started way back in 1981. There used to be 100 performers and staff and the theatre had capacity of 350 seats only. As the show gained popularity globally, the presentation of show was modernized with technology, new performers were added, conceptual changes were done.

Today it is one of the sorted after transvestite shows with super colossal use of costumes- make up, cultural storytelling and musical display to can sweep away your hearts.

Must Watch. Kids are allowed.

Shopping

Pattaya Night Market

Covered airconditioned Thai street Market; popular amongst tourists. The place is good to shop souvenirs and summer outfits. Good variety of Beach wear especially outfits in crochet. Open markets with narrow gaps in stalls and humid heat can spoil your shopping experience that’s why Pattaya Night market is much needed retail refix. Enjoy your retail therapy in much ventilated and structured ambience.

Central Festival Mall

Central Festival Mall is one of the premier malls in Pattaya. With over 300 shops its home to Numero Uno brands like H&M, Zara, Calvin Klein, Spencer etc. Lavish spread of eating points. From Middle Eastern to Italian and western cuisines. There is an electronic mart with brands like Samsung and Canon. Entertainment zone for families to watch cinema or play bowling.

Terminal 21, Pattaya

It’s shop ‘o’clock around the world. This place is planned like a sleek shopping airport. 6 world class shopping cities connecting each other on different levels. What sets this place apart from any other shopping mall is one of course the different countries thematic look on each floor and the longest escalator with spectacular plane on runway about 250 meters long next to a replica of a beach.

Must Visit

Food

Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant

While it’s my endeavor to promote local, sustainable and responsible tourism. I do speak about places, items and services that are popular or fall in must do list but I always prefer to keep a distance between mentions and recommendations.

So here’s a big thumbs up to one of the restaurants that I recommend. Cabbages & Condoms is a restaurant with a mission to educate people on issues like health, education, HIV, environment & water. A restaurant that started as a vegetable kiosk in Bangkok selling vegetables along with Lace panties, T-shirts, Condoms and Oral Contraceptives. As the Kiosk gained popularity and the name drew curiosity amongst people. In seventies a small outdoor restaurant was added and the cuisine serving specialties like Spicy Chicken Salad, Dried shrimp, Chicken curry with potato, deep fried coconut etc. became popular with masses.

The Restaurant is thematically laid out with décor items made using colored condoms. The furniture, lantern and furnishing give rustic ambience. There are witty and informational quotes all around about sex and condoms. From wishing well to condom tree and quite few of life satirical anecdotes. The place seems to entice you to spend your time in for sure.

The Beach side view of restaurant is captivating. Extensive menu reasonably priced just look out for taxes as with that it tends to get expensive. Menu spread consists of Local cuisine, Seafood, European, Asian, Thai, Vegetarian Friendly.

One of the Award-winning restaurants in Thailand. Operating in Thailand, England & Japan it attracts diners from all across the world. Definitely worth visiting.

To know more about their social work visit www.pda.or.th

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